I turned thirty-five this past year.
And while I still make questionable choices, have temper tantrums in grocery stores, and occasionally pee myself at night, I’ve actually learned a few things over the last number of years. Here is some advice I wish I had received when I was two-years-old . I could have even used this advice when I was four.
The Best Places In Life Are Off the Path. Say YES to the unknown. You’ll find that while it’s sometimes good to stay in the boundaries, to play in the living room with your parents or babysitter watching, or to stay in the playpen, some of my favorite memories have been when I've gone beyond my comfort zone. What's behind that closed door? How do you open the garage? Can I fit out the doggy door to the backyard? These are the types of questions you should be asking. And don't try to plan everything that could possibly happen—if we do so we preclude the limitless possibilities. Like the excitement of our first time walking into a street with incoming traffic.
Start Investing Now. Seriously, every little bit helps. It’s best to get that wealth snowball that Warren Buffett always talks about going as early as possible. Save those pennies and quarters you find on the floor and in the couch. Maybe check out those purses that are always on the ground. If you can grab it it's fair game. Have your parents invest the money in an index fund. Make sure they don’t steal from you. If you do this you might be able to retire by the time you’re thirty-five. Seriously, please do this. I'd really like to retire now.
Two words: Side Hustle. Along with saving, get a side hustle. You’re never too young. Just because you can barely walk or communicate shouldn’t be an excuse. You’re cute enough. Try modeling.
Get Reality Checks from Those Who Know You Best. A few months after turning five I thought pretty highly of myself. I could use the bathroom and wear underwear. I was running around and playing and getting pretty good at throwing balls. I was making twenty-five cents an hour for fetching tennis balls that my older brother hit. The money and power went to my head, and I started to treat people poorly. I’d yell at two- and three-year-olds to get out of the way. I was rude to waitstaff and the babysitter. It took a reality check from a friend who told me I was turning into “total DB” before I saw what was happening to me. Your best friends know the best you. Listen to them.
Ignore the Haters. In your twos you’ll find out that sadly there are always people who don’t love themselves enough to love you, even though you're amazing. There will always be people who see how you choose to live, where you travel, how successful you are, or what you’ve done and feel jealous and competitive with you. They'll lash out, trying to draw you into their dark life. Ignore them. They’ll just bring you down.
Choose Friends Who Dream Big. Friends who make big plans for themselves will inspire and motivate you to make big important plans for yourself. Friends who think small and are content to chew on a ball or put their fingers into a electric socket will discourage your big dreams because frankly, the people who put their fingers into a socket think there's nothing more exciting in life than that. I mean, it is a big rush but you have to go bigger.
Build Your Dreams, or You Will Build Other People's Dreams and May Resent Them. You’ll find that in your professional life which should be starting any moment you will spend time either working on your own dreams in life or working on helping other people build their dreams. While both can be valuable, now’s the time to start coming up with business ideas and figuring out what you want out of life. Seriously, imagine if you can get those 10,000 hours in now to build an important skill, like coding. By the time you're fifteen you'll be golden.
Get Enough Sleep. When you're two especially you think you can do it all. With that mentality one of the first things that seems to go is sleep. But this isn't going to help you in the long term. Learn to respect sleep. Take that nap. If anyone tries to disturb your nap, tell them how important sleep is to you and start crying if you have to. It's a tactic I still use.
Read, Read, Read. Read at least an hour a day. And read widely: self-help, novels, history, biography, fiction, picture books.
Take Care of Your Health: It’s really true — health is the most important thing. Eat a low carb paleo-type diet with plenty of healthy fats. Exercise daily. Get outside more. You’ll discover in your twos that you like hiking, sailing, and kayaking more than drinking, smoking, and partying.
Learn How to Play Office Politics. You may think that you have too much integrity to "play the game" and believe your hard work will stand up for itself, but that's not how the world works. Be likable, not just smart, hardworking, productive and competent. Likeability matters more than you realize. Be nice to people and afterwards when you have been promoted you can destroy them, because they are the competition.
Don't Be Afraid to Have Serious Relationships. You'll find that many people believe you can't have both an ambitious career and strong relationships in your life. While it's certainly a challenge, don't let your pursuit of a career cause you to neglect relationships. Even when you're young, don't be afraid to get close to people. It's a balancing act, but it's an important one and it's better that you figure it out when you're young. The twos are a great time to start looking for a life partner.
Realize That Not Everything You Were Told or Taught is True. Parents and teachers are incredible bullshit artists. They tell you things to get you out of their hair and also make up answers to questions they don't know. Don’t cling to falsehoods or fairy tales. Look at data, research, and your own reality and make your own decisions about things.
Seek Out a Mentor (And Be One). Find someone in your industry willing to share their experiences and give you advice, which you should always carefully consider before following. At the same time, you should be at a place where you’re comfortable in your career. Mentor an up-and-coming one-year-old and help inspire them to make change.
Make Peace with Your Mortality. You are in your twos. Congrats on making it this far. Not too long ago living this long would have been considered a success. With modern medicine you’ll likely live much longer, but nothing is certain. I’ve lost friends who were in their twos, threes, and fours, and that is likely to happen to you. But you’re more than 1/50th of the way through life so it's a good time to come to terms with the fact that as a biological creature you have an expiration date and like a carton of milk the spoilage comes faster than you realize. What you need to do is live a good and virtuous life, being true to your self, helping others around you, and mercilessly crushing anyone who gets in your way. And chocolate pudding. Eat lots of chocolate pudding.